Weighing The Costs of Not Eating Organic
With the majority of us living in cities, our toxin levels are at a high. We are surrounded by pollution from the air, water and wastes and are affected by these toxins on a daily basis. It’s unfortunate to say that our food is no different. With pesticides, herbicides, or antibiotic and hormone fed animals, our diet is also changing from how our ancestors ate. Do you eat organic? An alarming number of us don’t. Our busy lives have us rushing 24/7 and we hardly stop to think about what we are putting in our mouths. Why eat organic? People often ask. We might be busy, but we have the resources available to learn more about our food. More importantly, we are lucky enough to be in the position where we can choose to act out against poor practices. Let’s face it: eating organically might be the only savior for our bodies, the environment and our society. Listed below are important considerations as to why we should all be eating organic.
- Toxins – As stated above, we already live in a toxic environment. From the physical toxins to the emotional ones (think stress) it’s surprising that we feel as good as we do. Why eat organic? Why would anyone ingest pesticides? People often rinse off their apples with hardly any effort. “Everyone has cancer cells, but it depends on whether you feed them or not” explains Dan Cheung, owner of Nourish Vancouver, a local cafe operating a fully organic menu. Nourish Vancouver supports local but organically grown produce, and animal products. These are the types of foods we need to focus on in order to decrease toxins in the body. We are what we eat. If we don’t eat clean and fresh now, how will we feel later?
- Food Quality – Organic foods have a decrease nitrate content (as fertilizers are not nitrogen based) and increased mineral content. This includes calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorous. An added bonus in eating organic is that the produce hasn’t travelled for weeks. “If we took one carrot that was grown here and picked recently, compared to a carrot shipped and picked a week and a half ago” according to Dan, “the actual nutrient value would be much higher than the shipped carrot.”
- Social Responsibility – Just like stated above, we are lucky to be in the position where we choose to live the way we do. “I think about everyone who works and lives near those conventional farms” Dan explains, “their chances of something like cancer is much higher in that area. If I’m supporting those farms and those people are at risk, then I don’t want to support that. Some people don’t have a choice in many of those countries, and we are in a position where we can change that.” We are privileged to live here, and forking out an extra couple bucks ensures that these farmers can live safer, less chemical infested lives. In regards to affordability lets be honest, can we really not afford a couple extra dollars for organics? If we are buying Starbucks every morning, chances are we can. It’s not affordability; it’s our priorities that we are confusing.
- Environment – Speaking of responsibility. Organic famers practice crop rotation and use composted fertilizers, which maintains the quality rather than depleting the soil. Ever since the dawn of agriculture, we have depended on the quality of soil. Conventional farming does not think about the future. “Thirty to forty percent of produce will become extinct if the bees continue dying, and they are dying at a rate of 20 percent” Dan added. He also explained about pesticide use and pest resistance. New pesticides need to be updated, changed and new ones are added yearly. Pests become resistant and additional pesticides need to be used. “If the soil was strong, the plants will be strong and be able to resist pests naturally.” The cost of shipping organic foods is still better for the environment than using local GMO crops. The David Suzuki Foundation states an example online, “one study showed that lamb raised in New Zealand and shipped 18,000 kilometers to the UK still produced less than one quarter of the greenhouse gases than local British lamb. Why? Because local flocks were fed grains, which takes a lot of energy to grow, while the New Zealand flocks were grazed on grass. Shipping the lamb to the UK was responsible for only 5% of the overall greenhouse gases, whereas 80% of the emissions were from farm activities. Similar lifecycle assessments have found the same results for other foods. One assessment done for packaged orange juice found that over a third of the lifecycle emissions came from just the synthetic fertilizer used on the orange groves.”
Organic food isn’t only better for our bodies, its better for the future of the earth. Choose to eat organic. Places like Nourish Vancouver are trying to make eating organic healthy and convenient. The excuses are finally starting to decrease. Whether you do it personally, for decreased toxin load, increased food quality, a socially responsible reason, or for the environment, you will be supporting the future health of yourself and the planet.